Since it is National Police Week, Trump gave a speech yesterday recognizing all the officers killed in the line of duty. He declared that the attacks on law enforcement “must end right now.” Lets get a few things straight:
Regardless of what the latest Law & Order episode told you, being a police officer is not the most dangerous profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that law enforcement doesn’t even rank in the top 10 for deaths on the job. There are more fatalities among construction and sanitation workers. Why not focus on all the people who lose their lives while removing our trash? Are they simply not worthy? Dr. King was assassinated while trying to unionize sanitation workers in Memphis. And it was the FBI – a law enforcement agency – which set him up. Remember that.
Police officers are not under attack. We are. Lets do some basic math. In 2016, 143 police officers were killed, while 963 civilians were killed by police officers. This means that one cop was killed every 2.5 days; while 2.6 people were killed every single day by the police. Adding insult to injury is the fact that between 2005-2015, only 13 officers were charged with murder/manslaughter. As Martinot & Sexton argue, the police are an impunity machine: the judge, jury, and executioner wrapped into one. Focusing on the “blood spilled from our heroes in blue” is ridiculous – especially when we take into account who they are killing. Native Americans, blacks, poor folks, and people with mental illnesses are disproportionately murdered by the police. This is oppression. Police officers are only “heroes” to those who have an interest in maintaining white supremacy/anti-blackness, capitalist exploitation, and hetero-patriarchy.
Spreading the lie that police are under attack justifies the oppression of marginalized communities. By framing cops as victims, people of color are depicted as aggressors who deserve deportation, incarceration, and/or murder. The Trump administration has proposed cuts to all social programs that will help people, but seeks to increase spending for the police to further destroy those communities. This means that police departments can become more militarized to suppress black and brown folks in the name of “law and order.”
National Police Week is a celebration of State violence.